Thursday, August 27, 2009


I had a very fun photo shoot on Monday with one of my colleagues children.  She was pregnant with her daughter as I was preparing for Duc.  She delivered while I was in Vietnam.  We’ve had traded quite a few stories over the last few months so I was quite excited when she asked if I would take her daughter’s photos.





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She was an absolute DOLL.  My goodness and I loved having some baby time again.  When Duc was that age he was already cruising furniture and nearly walking.  He was never a soft, cuddly child with baby rolls.  He was always a bruiser.  It was nice to know what a baby-baby feels like.  Did I mention the dresses…oh, I can’t wait to buy dresses!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Several years ago I was sitting in a Chinese restaurant with my mother she looked at me and with a surprising amount of feeling said, “Wow, you look so much like my mother.”

I had a pang of sadness as she told me it was the shape of my forehead, the way I had my hair pulled back from my face and the expression on my face. I thought of my someday children in that moment and realized I would never turn to my daughter and repeat my mother’s words. I would never look at my son and marvel at how much he looks like my father and his father before him. It wasn’t that I regretted not giving birth to them, but I wanted to impart something of myself on them. 005_edited-1 copy

It was a while before I shared that sad moment with my mother, but she assured me that I would see myself in my children. They may not inherit my love of art or my sister’s musical ability, but they will learn to appreciate both. My son may not have my blue eyes, but he has my twinkle and my sense of humor. And sometimes, in the smallest of moments, I catch a glimmer of myself in my son. 012_edited-1 copy

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sometimes you just need to feel the wind on your skin

062_edited-1 It’s impossible for this time of year to arrive and not think back to where I was this time last year, two years and three years ago. Last year I was still anxiously waiting for someone to confirm what I already knew—my son lived and breathed. What a strange place to be—to be a mother, to know your child lives and exists, but to not know what he looks like or what he smells like? I imagine many birth mothers know that feeling well.

While I finally received confirmation on September 1st and received his file on September 3rd, there was so much I felt and suspected that I never documented here. Those familiar with how ugly the Vietnam/US adoption process became last year understand why. I remember looking up in the sky the evening of May 19th and again on the following morning and seeing the full moon and knowing deep in my soul that my son was alive and lived and breathed somewhere in this world. Every full moon following that I would say a prayer and thank God that he was alive another month. In late June I had this overwhelming feeling that something was finally beginning to happen. My father and I both dreamed that we would hear something that week, and in a way, we did. I received an email from my agency on behalf of the Vietnamese Adoption Officials who reported an issue on my 171H. It was then that I finally had confirmation that something was indeed happening that was bringing Duc and I closer together.

Along the way I would occasionally have a feeling that something was happening that was drawing my son and me closer together. I collected those dates and documented them in my private journal and wondered if I would ever know for sure. It would be many months before it would be confirmed, but indeed, those strange sensations were tied to some significant events that occurred behind the scenes. It’s funny how life and how God work.

Two years ago I was unemployed and waiting and wondering. Wondering about a job, wondering how long I would wait for my daughter, wondering about this son—a secret desire that I shared only with Kris and my mother. I could never have guessed that my secret desire would someday be a son I would share with the world.

Three years ago I had my first adoption dream. In many ways I believe that was the dream that finally opened me up to the possibility of being a single parent. God was already working on my heart, reversing the direction of my life, the direction of my thoughts. Three years and two weeks ago I started the process for my daughter. The ah-ha moment finally dawned and I knew I couldn’t wait any longer. I didn’t know at the time how timely that moment would be. Months later singles were no longer be allowed to adopt from China.

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This is what we all waited for. Wow. I could only imagine this a year ago. 027_edited-1

We call my dad the baby whisperer. He has an amazing ability to put any baby asleep. Duc had four naps today and I had two. Anyone have a problem with that??? I think we are both still recovering from being ill. 036_edited-1 copy

A doll at my parent’s house. She deserved to have her photo taken. Look how pretty she is! 051_edited-2 copy Peek-a-boo with my babe.067_edited-1

Thursday, August 20, 2009


014_edited-1 copyI need a faster shutter speed or I need to buy a flash for my camera! Look at his little hand just patting the arm rest.

We had a rough night last night. He had his 15 month check-up yesterday and we are still catching up his immunizations. Normally they don’t bother him, but last night was rough. It took an hour to get him down for bed (normally it takes 30 seconds) and then he woke up crying several times between 3 and 4 am. I gave him some motrin and rocked him back to sleep which took a lot longer than I thought it would. Fortunately he woke up easily this morning. I am so thankful I have somewhat flexible hours because we spent the morning playing and cuddling on my bed. He loves to push my shirt up and poke my belly. Evidently there is something funny in the jiggle. He usually ends his play time by kissing my belly. What a sweetie.

I’m exhausted. The house is a disaster and I am going to bed. Hopefully tonight will be a bit easier.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fruits of my labor (15/8)

003_edited-1010_edited-1Do you know how much it makes my heart sing to watch my son eat what I have fixed or how happy I was to give him his first bowl of pho? It saddens me that he didn’t have the chance to eat pho in Vietnam, but I really enjoy fixing it for him now.

It is hard for me to believe that my baby is 15 months and that we have been together 8 months. I thought the novelty of it would slip away with the passage of time, but it hasn’t. Before I can reign them in tears still chase a line down my face at the most surprising moments. Sometimes it is a look he gives me, sometimes when I am carrying him to bed and he clings to my neck, and sometimes it is watching him play and being amazed that he is here. After all those tears, months of wondering, he is here. Fifty weeks ago I saw his face for the first time and I knew my life was changing. I knew it was changing from the very first email I sent my agency, but there he was, proof. I never could have imagined the love, the light, the mess and the tears he would bring.

Happy 15 months, baby boy! You were worth every tear, every bump in the road, every heartbreak. You continue to amaze me. every. single. day. I love you, Duc.


Comfort has been very important lately.  Last night the husband and son of a dear friend went missing.  All kinds of ugly things went through my mind.  None of it good and I felt sick with worry as I waited unable to do anything.  Thank GOD they were finally found.  Because they were last seen at a lake my mind went to a very ugly place.  This isn’t the only things going on, but it has certainly contributed to my stress levels recently.  I’ve always been very empathetic, but since Duc entered my life I feel an entirely new level of panic every time I hear of something horrible happening to a child.  So, comfort and comfort food have been very important.  Since some of the happiest times of my life occurred in Vietnam, I am recreating some of that at home.  In my new kitchen. 


It doesn’t seem logical, but my pho tastes every bit as good as what I had in Vietnam.  I was quite surprised mine tasted so authentic.  And how much do you love star seed anise?  I just love the smell of them.  Ahhhh….like licorice. 


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Favorite things

I owe you all a big thank you for your support. I have appreciated hearing your personal stories about the children you have loved and lost. I feel like a failure and I feel like I failed her. I know I made the right decision for our family, but it didn’t make the decision any easier. As time goes on I will probably share more, but for now it is still a little too painful. Even finding an old email with her photo reduced me to tears the other day.

So, I am devoting this post to a few of my favorite things. Duc and I are finally feeling better and we have been getting out more. Michael and I checked out our dream cameras this weekend and I am in heaven. And a little bit of hell since I need $1K to renew all my China paperwork (how about that for salt in a wound, eh?). Obviously I’d rather use that money to upgrade and/or save for another lens. I have a baby photo shoot next week so I am pretty psyched. She has the biggest blue eyes and I can NOT wait to photograph her. Also, she is a very chubby baby! I love chub. Duc doesn’t have chub—he has muscles.

004_edited-1He does the Vietnamese squat constantly. LOVE it!

006_edited-1No matter where I go in the hospital people call me “Trouble”. Well, all it takes is one look to see that Duc is trouble with a capital T. This boy (and his yogurt) make me giggle.

080_edited-1My dad and the Duc. I love to see my boys together.

Every time Duc sees Oma there seems to involve a haircut…104_edited-1 How sad does he look getting his hair cut?


Tuesday, August 11, 2009


highway photophoto by Bruce Dale

From my very first heart beat my sense of mortality would be as comfortable as an old shoe. Some days I smile and I live and I breathe in and I don’t notice, but other days it rubs me raw. July I was rubbed raw.

I have been very aware of my own mortality since my first days. Unlike other kids, I was born knowing that I have a limited number of days. We all do, but for many people they don’t become aware of it until something forces them to confront it. I lived, and continue to live, knowing that each day is a gift. When Duc entered my life this feeling intensified. Suddenly, my life has a greater importance. I am a parent. I am the only parent to my son. No one knows him like I do and no one loves him like I do.

In addition to concerning myself with my own mortality, I suddenly became obsessed with his. He needs to live. He needs to grow and be the great man that I know that he will be. I think love makes you vulnerable—when you have love, life looks better, food tastes better, the little things slip away and those moments that really matter are the ones you focus on and live for. The sound of his laughter, the mischievous twinkle in his eyes, the smell of his skin when the sun has warmed him—these are the things I live for. But love also has the ability to break you and leave you lifeless. Anyone who has lost someone they have loved—through death, separation or divorce has felt this.

In July I saw the girl that would be my daughter. I wasn’t looking for her, but on some level I knew to be expecting her. There had been too many dreams, too many recently shed tears, just too much…for me not to believe that she was the one. Every argument I had for why she couldn’t be the one—the timing is bad, I have no extra money, what about Duc—there was an answer, a solution. She was exactly as I had dreamed—my little heart baby, a beautiful little 13 month-old. And suddenly everything seemed perfect. Things seemed to make sense and I wanted to bring her home in a heart beat. But there it was, that little heart beat. The one that haunted me from my first days. The one that haunted her. The one that had already begun to devastate her brain and waste her body. That one little heart. And my big heart would have done anything to make it right. I would have adopted her and loved her to the end of her days or mine.

But love can’t make all things right. And love doesn’t pay the bills. Love doesn’t give you endless energy or patience. And love doesn’t reason or make the decision any easier. It hurt then. It still hurts now and as I type, I cry.

Sometimes you go down a path and you have no idea why. I have no idea why I saw that file or saw her pictures. I don’t know why I connected to that child, but when I look at her photo I see Duc, and how I could I not fall in love with the face that I love the most?066_edited-1 copy

Friday, August 7, 2009

MIA (how do single moms stay healthy when the kiddos are sick?)

The only thing worse than having a sick child is then becoming sick myself. I finally took Duc to the doctor on Wednesday and learned that he will likely be dealing with the fatigue for a couple more weeks. Yeah, it is one of those really icky viruses.

On Thursday I woke up feeling kind of cruddy and by the end of the day I developed a fever of 105*. I am pretty sure that is the highest fever I have had since childhood. My bones ache, my muscles feel like limp spaghetti noodles, I have a headache and my neck and lower back ache horribly. The Motrin helps some, but I feel awful. And I feel worse when I think that I am not the mother than he is used to.

I don’t think I’ve gotten my camera out all week which makes me really sad! So here are some photos from last weekend.007_edited-1In the back ground you can sort of see the *new* dishwasher and my new counter tops. My contractor came out on Tuesday and finished all the work and everything works beautifully! I’m so excited and my kitchen looks so much neater now that I don’t have stuff cluttering the ~3 feet of total counter space. The custom built work in my living room is beautiful so now I have plans for the space on the opposite side of my fireplace. I just need to win the lottery! Afterwards Duc hung out with the contractor (my cousin) and he showed him his massive truck. Duc was in heaven! He is so a boy’s boy. Brent put him in the truck and Duc immediately grabbed the wheel and started “driving” he also adjusted the radio until he found a station he liked (alternative rock). 011_edited-1Not the best quality photo, but I love the “hear no evil” pose. He does this quite a bit—hear no evil, see no evil, and say no evil. Very cute!

Sunday, August 2, 2009


When did life get so crazy? I had every intention of catching everyone up on what we’ve been up to, but again, life got busy. So for a quick recap..

Last Sunday we were in Madison, WI and Heather & Mason, Kris and Cate, Duc and me had lunch at one of the best Mexican places I have ever eaten at. Wow! Wish I could have tried one of their margaritas too! Anyway, Duc gets restless once he finishes his meal so I let him down to run. And, yes, I am that parent that lets my child run like a heathen making noise—but I do keep a close eye on him and I don’t let him get near little babies or old people (don’t want him knocking either one over). Well, this time he got away from me and darted into the kitchen of the restaurant. When I followed him back there I found him with an audience of THREE adults and I had the strongest memory of eating in Vietnam. Duc had been making eyes at the cutie (not the waitress that was assigned to our table) at the register and every time our waiter walked past he would stop to scratch Duc’s back or ruffle his hair. So, Duc was back in the kitchen hanging out with those two and another gentleman. They held him and played with him while I finished taking care of the bill. It reminded me of being in Saigon and especially the Pho 24 (is that the right name?) and a young man named Duc and a few other men took turns holding and playing with Duc while I sucked down an incredibly hot bowl of pho. We were probably 50 feet from our hotel and the boys insisted on walking us with an umbrella to our hotel. They would not take no for an answer even when we explained how close we were. It was a heavy downpour so it was nice, but I actually prefer a cooling walk in the rain every once in a while. Evidently that would have made me a very bad mother.

And before I forget…Duc had his first bite of cat food! We were at Dustin, Heather and Mason’s house and I put Duc in their care while I used the bathroom. When I came back downstairs I noticed he was chewing. I just assumed they had given him something and then I saw him make a beeline for the cat dish and that’s when I put it all together. I had to pick cat food out of his mouth piece-by-piece since he wasn’t giving it up easily. Too funny.

Wisconsin 067_edited-1I should have known from this expression that the little man was not feeling well. Twenty minutes later he had an absolute screaming, crying melt-down (fortunately this is incredibly unusual) so I knew something was wrong and by that night I knew what. He developed a fever on Sunday that didn’t break until Friday mid-morning. Yep, six stinkin’ days of sick and ick. We had to cut short our time with Kris and Cate by a few hours because he would just lay his head on my shoulder and cry. It was awful!

See how she has to always touch him?  Sweet! I missed work Tuesday and Wednesday because Duc was so sick. He had to be ON me at all times, which is so not my little boy. For the first time ever he laid his head on my belly and slept. It was hard to get out from under him because he would cry hysterically if I tried to leave. This is way too much information, but I would have to hold him while I used the bathroom. Wisconsin 104_edited-1 This was a pretty common site last week. His temp was 104* and I had to give him massive amounts of tylenol and motrin in order to keep his temp around 102*. He has a horrible cough that makes him gag and gasp for air. It’s horrible. He had to be on me or touching me at all times, even times when the meds were working and he felt a bit perkier. Wisconsin 097_edited-1 copy Even though it sounds awful, and for poor Duc it was, I loved nearly every minute with him this week. When he was feeling good he would cover me with kisses—from my feet to my hands and when he felt bad he would bury his head in my neck and wrap his arms around my neck. Honestly, it was wonderful. He slept in my arms one night because his breathing was too scary for me to want him to sleep across the hall from me. I wish he didn’t feel so bad, but it truly has been wonderful to spend this time with him. You never feel more like a mom than when your child is sick.

I’ve been very busy here at home. A couple of weeks ago I called my contractor/cousin and told him we couldn’t keep putting off the construction because I have this overwhelming feeling that my daughter exists…now it is just a matter of time. He built a beautiful desk/cabinet unit in my living room so I can move my office out of Duc’s room. It is beautiful! I will try to post photos sometime soon—it’s not quite completed yet. He also did some kitchen renovation—added a dishwasher, replaced and extended my countertops to the wall, installed a new cabinet and installed a garbage disposal. Yes, I have been living without a dishwasher and garbage disposal for the last 3+ years. On Tuesday the electrician will come out and put some outlets in so that I can run all my new toys! So excited!

I have also decided I should extend my renovation to painting the kitchen and cabinets. They are a nice calming green right now and I love the color so I don’t know if I just want a fresher color or if I should put a while new color on the walls. I should mention that my kitchen is nearly the same color as my living room and halls. If you have any ideas please let me know! I need a little inspiration right now.

And if that weren’t enough I am also working on my photography website which is not was as easy as I was hoping. Not that I thought it would be easy, but I may have to pay someone to build it for me if I don’t figure it out soon.

Sigh, at least I have plenty to keep me busy!Feeling better!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A week

I didn’t intend to suddenly disappear, but life, as it often does, got incredibly busy.  On Saturday we drove up to Wisconsin to visit our extended family, and I say family because if you ever see Duc and Cate together and see their interaction you can see they interact very much like siblings.  From the beginning they have been like that even though they have finally seen each other three or four times since they both came home late last year.  So, I thought I would show you our week through a series of photos!

I don’t really have any photos from Saturday since it mostly involved driving, crying and the overwhelming feeling of exhaustion!  But Sunday looks promising…Wisconsin 001_edited-1 copyA two headed rhino!  Just kidding…just two rhinos. I did take a double take when I saw them at the zoo.Wisconsin 003_edited-2 copyA photo of the giraffe gate.  It seemed kind of interesting… Wisconsin 012_edited-1 copyMy favorite photo of Catherine.

Wisconsin 020_edited-1 copyAnd of Mason…such a beautiful boy!Wisconsin 052_edited-1And for my mother, her favorite bird.


Ok, time for bed.  I’ll have to continue this on Saturday, or, as some would say “later today”.        


About This Blog

This started as my story, but has evolved to OUR story. This is the story of life as a single parent to a wonderful little boy while we wait for baby sister. China LID 2.12.07.

But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, be patient! For it will surely take place. It will not be late by a single day.
Habakkuk 2:3

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